The Negotiator Magazine

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This Gambit is very, very effective even when everybody knows what's going on. It was how Presidents Carter and Reagan got the hostages out of Iran, wasn't it? You remember that? Carter had lost the election. He was very eager to do something about the Iranian hostage situation before he left the White House and Reagan could take credit for their release. So, he started playing Good Guy/Bad Guy with the Ayatollah. He said to him, "If I were you, I'd settle this thing with me. Don't take a chance on this new team coming into office in January. My goodness, have you taken a look at these guys? The President's a former cowboy actor. The Vice President is the former head of the C.I.A. The Secretary of State is Alexander Haig. These guys are crazier than Englishmen. There's no telling what they might do."

Reagan, playing along with it, said, "Hey, if I were you, I'd settle with Carter. He's a nice guy. You're definitely not going to like what I'll have to say about it, when I get into the White House." And sure enough, we saw the hostages being released on the morning of Reagan's inauguration. Of course, the Iranians were aware of Good Guy/Bad Guy, but they didn't want to take a chance that Reagan would follow through with his threats. It demonstrated that these Gambits work even when the other side knows what you're doing. In 1994, Jimmy Carter was again called upon to play the Good Guy when he and Colen Powell went to Haiti to see if they could get General Cedras to give up power without a fight. Powell was there to impress the might of the armed forces upon Cedras. Carter was there to cozy up the dictator, even suggesting he come to Plains, Georgia, and teach a class in Sunday School when the crisis was over.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

1. People use Good Guy/Bad Guy on you much more than you might believe. Look out for it whenever you're negotiating with two or more people.
2. It is a very effective way of putting pressure on the other person without creating confrontation.
3. Counter it by identifying it. It's such a well-known tactic that when you catch them using it, they get embarrassed and back off.
4. Don't be concerned that the other side knows what you're doing. Even if they do it can still be a powerful tactic. In fact, when you're Power Negotiating with someone who understands all of these Gambits, it becomes more fun. It's like playing chess with a person of equal skill rather than someone whom you can easily outsmart.

Roger Dawson, CSP, CPAE is one of North America's top negotiating experts and a leading sales and management speaker. He is the author of "Secrets of Power Negotiating" which is one of the biggest selling audiocassette programs ever published. His latest book "Power Negotiating for Salespeople" is now in bookstores and a must read for Realtors®. Copyright© 2002, Roger Dawson. All rights reserved. For information about Roger's Keynote presentations and training sessions, contact the Frog Pond Group at 800.704.FROG(3764) or email susie@frogpond.com; http://www.frogpond.com.

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